Comedian Bert Kreischer is a happy guy, and it's not the beer talking.
"I'm extremely happy," Kreischer says. "For the first time in this entire business, I get to do anything I want to do and not because I have to do it."
These days, the things Kreischer says he likes to do the most also happen to be how he makes his living. He has hilarious conversations with comedians on his wildly popular BertCast podcast. He hosts his own cooking comedy show called Something's Burning on Bill Burr's All Things Comedy online network. And, of course, he tours the country performing his high-energy, shirtless stand-up shows in theaters all over the world like the two shows he'll do at The Majestic this Saturday.
"It's not hard to find the energy to do the things you absolutely want to do," Kreischer says.
Kreischer has been doing stand-up for 20 years, telling stories about whatever's going on in his life, which usually involves activities like partying, raising his two daughters or becoming drinking buddies with members of the Russian mafia.
"Part of my personality is I like to have a good time and I'm an extrovert, and extroverts, they blossom as meathead frat boys and extroverts get labeled as meathead frat boys," Kreischer says with a laugh. "For me, it's just part of my personality. I like parties. I like talking and conversations."
Kreischer's first viral story earned him the first cornerstone of his infamy in 1997 when Rolling Stone published a profile of him and his hard-partying ways while he was entering his sixth year at Florida State University. His story not only made him a bigger man on campus, it caught Hollywood's attention and served as the inspiration for the film National Lampoon's Van Wilder starring Ryan Reynolds.
Kreischer embarked on a stand-up career straight out of college as a road comic and started out in comedy clubs and dive bars that sometimes felt discouraging. When he felt down about a show, Kreischer says he would psych himself up to do his sets by taking off his shirt and performing with his hairy gut hanging out during his entire set. He made it a permanent part of his act after a show in Columbus, Ohio, when he tried to put his shirt back on "and when I did, a woman in the back yelled, 'Leave it off!'"
"I started on the road and sometimes you get a little bummed out and you miss your family and you think if you're doing the right thing when it's a half-sold room on a Thursday and you're feeling a little lonely," he says. "It's a weird place to do comedy. When I got on stage, I would rip my shirt off and down a beer and I knew the next hour was going to be fun and it would make me giggle."
Kreischer's style involves a lot of storytelling — everything from experiences attending bizarre sex shops to a college trip to Russia that earned him his nickname "The Machine."
"I told it a couple of times and I first told it on [the radio show] Loveline one time when someone called in and said, 'Why don't you tell the story about how you robbed the train in Russia?'" Kreischer says. "I told it on the road one time, and it was just a game-changer for me."
If being a 46-year-old father of two and a full-time comic and podcaster wasn't busy enough, he's even added a filming schedule to his calendar with his online cooking show Something's Burning. It's a comedy chat show meets cooking show, an idea he thought up with comedian Tom Segura 10 years ago. Kreischer prepares a dish for a pair of friendly comedians like Brian Regan, Todd Glass and Chris D'Elia, other celebrities like musician Wheeler Walker Jr. and even his wife, LeeAnn.
He usually burns part of the ingredients and forgets to clean his hands in between parts of the meal but always produces something tasty.
"Segura would come to my house and eat dinner all the time because he was broke," Kreischer says. "He always liked my cooking, but my way of cooking is a little crazy. It's static. It's all over the place."
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Even with such a busy schedule, Kreischer is still known for hanging out with his fans long after he's stepped off the stage to keep drinking and sometimes still without a shirt. He says he still does it occasionally if he doesn't have to get on the road right away even after his venues get bigger and bigger.
"I'll do a meet-and-greet for 25 people after the show, and if I'm feeling it. I'll tell them I'm going to this local bar and if you want to hang out, you can come hang out and have a beer," he says. "A lot of people who come out are podcast fans, and they know so much about me and my family environment. They know about 'Sober October.' It's pretty cool, and I've got cool fans."